Friday, November 28, 2008
Some of you, my hearers, have often been impressed, and partially convinced of sin, but you have put off Christ with excuses. Will you hear with me while I solemnly assure you, that at its core your heart is at enmity to God. Your excuse may look very pretty, but it is as flimsy as it is fair. If you were honest with your own soul, you would say at once, “I do not love Christ; I do not want his salvation.” Your put-offs, your false promises, your excuses are worthless; any one with half an eye can see through them - they are so transparent. You are an enemy to God; you are unreconciled, and you are content to be so. This truth may be unpalatable, but it is nevertheless most certain. May God help you to feel this, and may it humble you before his presence.
From a sermon entitled "A Bad Excuse Is Worse Than None," delivered. Flickr photo by Derek Purdy; some rights reserved.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
“I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people.”
Whoever may come to hear me, devout or profane, believer or heathen, civilized or barbarian, I shall not cease my music. David seemed inspired to foresee that his Psalms would be sung in every land, from Greenland's icy mountains to India's coral strand. His heart was large, he would have the whole race of man listen to his joy in God, and lo, he has his desire, for his psalmody is cosmopolitan; no poet is so universally known as he. He had but one theme, he sang Jehovah and none beside, and his work being thus made of gold, silver, and precious stones, has endured the fiery ordeal of time, and was never more prized than at this day. Happy man, to have thus made his choice to be the Lord's musician, he retains his office as the Poet Laureate of the kingdom of heaven, and shall retain it till the crack of doom.
“And I will sing praises unto thee among the nations.”
This is written, not only to complete the parallelism of the verse, but to reaffirm his fixed resolve. He would march to battle praising Jehovah, and when he had conquered he would make the captured cities ring with Jehovah's praises. He would carry his religion with him wherever he pushed his conquests, and the vanquished should not hear the praises of David, but the glories of the Lord of Hosts. Would to God that wherever professing Christians travel they would carry the praises of the Lord with them! It is to be feared that some leave their religion when they leave their homes. Nations and peoples would soon know the gospel of Jesus if every Christian traveller were as intensely devout as the Psalmist. Alas, it is to be feared that the Lord's name is profaned rather than honoured among the heathen by many who are named by the name of Christ.
From the Treasury of David, exposition of Psalm 108:3. Flickr photo by James Jordan; some rights reserved.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
It would be a very pleasant thing if we could please men and please God too; if we could really make the best of both worlds, and have the sweets of this and of the next also: but a warning cry arises from the pages of holy Scripture, for the Word of God talks very differently from this. It talks about a strait and narrow way, and about few that find it; it speaks of persecution, suffering, reproach, and contending even unto blood, striving against sin; it talks about wrestling and fighting, struggling and witnessing. I hear the Savior say not, “I send you forth as sheep into the midst of green pastures,” but, “as sheep in the midst of wolves.” I hear him prophesy that we should be hated of all men for his name’s sake. Truly these things are enough to startle those good, easy souls who go so delicately onward; surely they may at once enquire, Can it be that this smooth-faced godliness, this very delightful way of getting to heaven, can be the right one? Is it not all a delusion?
Are we not buoyed up with a false hope, if that hope is never assailed by trouble and persecution? All is not gold that glitters: may not the glittering religion of the many be, after all, only a pretense and a sham? O ye lovers of carnal ease, woe unto you! Inasmuch as ye take not up the cross, ye shall never win the crown. The disciples of Christ must expect to follow their Master, not merely in obedience to his doctrines, but also in the reproach which gathers about his cross. I do not find Christ carried on flowery beds of ease to his throne; I do not find him applauded with universal acclamations; on the contrary, wherever he goes he is a protestor against things established by human wisdom, and in return the things established vow his destruction, and are not satisfied until at last they gloat their cruel eyes with his martyrdom upon the cross. Jesus Christ has no life of pleasure and of ease; he is despised and rejected of men - a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and let us rest assured that if we bear faithfully our testimony, we shall discover that the servant is not above his Master, minor the disciple above his Lord: if they have called the Master of the house “Beelzebub,” much more shall they call them of his household by titles as ignominious and shameful. We must expect, if the Christian soldier be really a soldier, and not a mere pretender to the art of war, that he will have to fight until he joins the host triumphant.
From a sermon entitled "Let Us Go Forth," delivered June 26, 1861. Flickr photo by b k; some rights reserved.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. Ps. 22:7
In reading this verse one is struck with the Messiah's missionary spirit. It is evidently his grand consolation that Jehovah will be known throughout all places of his dominion. “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord. Out from the inner circle of the present church the blessing is to spread in growing power until the remotest parts of the earth shall be ashamed of their idols, mindful of the true God, penitent for their offences, and unanimously earnest for reconcilation with Jehovah. Then shall false worship cease, “and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee, “O thou only living and true God. This hope which was the reward of Jesus is a stimulus to those who fight his battles. It is well to mark the order of conversion as here set forth; they shall “remember” - this is reflection, like the prodigal who came unto himself; “and turn unto Jehovah” - this is repentance, like Manasseh who left his idols and “worship” - this is holy service, as Paul adored the Christ whom once he abhorred.
From the Treasury of David, exposition on Psalm 22:7. Flickr photo by Indy Kethdy ; some rights reserved.
Monday, November 24, 2008
We do not muse much in these days of ours. We are too busy. We are hurrying here and there, doing much, and talking much, but thinking very little, and spending but very little time indeed in the modesty of retirement.
“The calm retreat, the silent shade,”
are things which we know but very little about. We should be better men, if we were more alone; and I think that we should do more good after all, if with even less of active effort we spent more time in waiting upon God, and gathering spiritual strength for labor in his service. Where lives there upon earth, in these days, a man who spends hour after hour of the day in meditation upon God? There may be such, and if there be, I would that I had their acquaintance; but where will you find giants such as those who lived in the Puritan times, whose lips dropped pearls, because they themselves had dived down deep in the fathomless ocean of mercy by the sweet aid of meditation? There may be such, and I would that it were our lot to sit under their ministry; but I fear that the most of us are so little in retirement -so seldom in communion with God in private, and even when there, the communion is for so short a time - that we are but tiny dwarfs, and can never, while we live thus, attain to the stature of a perfect man in Christ Jesus. The world has put a little letter before the word “musing,” and these are the days, not for musing, but for a-musing. People will go anywhere for amusement; but to muse is a strange thing to them, and they think it dull and wearisome.
From a sermon entitled "Quiet Musing," delivered. Flickr photo by Indy Kethdy; some rights reserved.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
True mourning for sin is the work of the Spirit of God. There is no mourning until first the Spirit is poured out. Then men look, and then they mourn. Repentance is too choice a flower to grow in nature’s garden. If thou hast one sigh after Christ, if thou hast one particle of hatred of sin, God the Holy Spirit must have given it to thee, for poor human nature with its utmost strain can never reach to a spiritual thing. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” True repentance then must come from on high. Lord, send it to us now.
From a sermon entitled "The Pierced One Pierces The Heart," delivered June 19, 1861. Flickr photo by Flemming Christiansen; some rights reserved.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”-John 16:7.
Come, Holy Spirit, come, we can do nothing without thee; but if we have thy wind, we spread our sail, and speed onward towards glory.
Then the Spirit came as fire. A fire-shower accompanied the rushing mighty wind. What a blessing is this to the Church! The Church wants fire to quicken her ministers, to give zeal and energy to all her members. Having this fire, she burns her way to success. The world meets her with the fire of faggots, but she confronts the world with the fire of kindling spirits and of souls aglow with the love of Jesus Christ. She trusts not to the wit, and eloquence, and wisdom of her preachers, but to the divine fire which clothes them with energy. She knows that men are irresistible when they are filled with hallowed enthusiasm sent from God. She trusts therefore in this, and her cry is, “Come, holy fire, abide upon our pastors and teachers! Rest upon every one of us!” This fire is a blessing Christ did not bring us in person, but which he now gives through his Spirit to the Church.
From a sermon entitled "The Superlative Excellence of the Holy Spirit," delivered June 12, 1864. Flickr photo by Paul Sapiano; some rights reserved.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Wherever the apostles went they met with obstacles to the preaching of the gospel, and the more open and effectual was the door of utterance the more numerous were the adversaries. These brave men who wielded the sword of the Spirit as to put to flight all their foes; and this they did not by craft and guile, but by making a direct cut at the error which impeded them. Never did they dream for a moment of adapting the gospel to the unhallowed tastes or prejudices of the people, but at once directly and boldly they brought down with both their hands the mighty sword of the Spirit upon the crown of the opposing error.
From a sermon entitled "Baptismal Regeneration," delivered June 5, 1864.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Meditate, dear friends, upon the whole range of God’s works in creation and providence. There was a period when God dwelt alone and creatures were not. In that time before all time, when there was no day but “The Ancient of Days,” when matter and created mind were alike unborn, and even space was not, God, the great I Am, was as perfect, glorious, and blessed as he is now. There was no sun, and yet Jehovah dwelt in light ineffable; there was no earth, and yet his throne stood fast and firm; there were no heavens, and yet his glory was unbounded.
God inhabited eternity in the infinite majesty and happiness of his self-contained greatness. If the Lord, thus abiding in awful solitude, should choose to create anything, the first thought and idea must come of him, for there was no other to think or suggest. All things must be of him in design. With whom can he take counsel? Who shall instruct him? There existed not another to come into the council-chamber, even if such an assistance could be supposable with the Most High. In the beginning of his way before his works of old, eternal wisdom brought forth from its own mind the perfect plan of future creations, and every line and mark therein must clearly have been of the Lord alone. He ordained the pathway of every planet, and the abode of every fixed star. He poured forth the sweet influences of the Pleiades, and girt Orion with his bands. He appointed the bounds of the sea, and settled the course of the winds. As to the earth, the Lord alone planned its foundations, and stretched his line upon it. He formed in his own mind the mold of all his creatures and found for them a dwelling and a service. He appointed the degree of strength with which he would endow each creature, settled its months of life, its hour of death, its coming and its going. Divine wisdom mapped this earth, its flowing rivers and foaming seas, the towering mountains, and the laughing valleys. The divine Architect fixed the gates of the morning and the doors of the shadow of death. Nothing could have been suggested by any other, for there was no other to suggest. It was in his power to have made a universe very different from this, if he had so pleased; and that he has made it what it is, must have been merely because in his wisdom and prudence he saw fit to do so.
From a sermon entitled "Laus Deo," delivered May 29, 1864. Flickr photo by Ron Almog; some rights reserved.
Friday, November 14, 2008
No sooner was God manifest in the flesh, than mortals began to stumble at him. “ Is not this the carpenter’s son?” was the question of those who looked for worldly pomp and imperial grandeur. “His father and his mother, we know, and his brethren and his sisters are they not all with us?” was the whispered objection of his own townsmen. In his own country the greatest of all prophets had no honor. Our Lord was rejected of all sorts of men; they looked at him from different quarters, but all with the same scornful eye. The Pharisee stumbled at him, because he was not superstitions and ostentatious; forsooth, he did not wash his hands before he ate, nor did he pray at the corner of the streets; he entered into the company of publicans and sinners; he did not make broad his phylactery; be healed the sick upon the Sabbath; he had no respect for traditions, and therefore every righteous Pharisee abhorred him. The Sadducee, on the other hand, much as he hated Pharisaic superstition, despised Christ equally as much. His objections were shot from quite another quarter. To him Christ was too superstitious; for the Sadducee would not believe in angel or spirit, or resurrection of the dead - all which beliefs the prophet of Nazareth openly avowed.
Philosophical skepticism detested Jesus, because his teaching had in it very much of the supernatural element. All his life long, in the high courts of Herod or of Pilate, or in the lowest rank of the mob of Judea, Christ was despised and rejected of men. They had long ago persecuted all the prophets whom the Lord had sent, and it was little marvel that they now assailed the Master himself.
From a sermon entitled "Unbelievers Stumbling, Believers Rejoicing," delivered May 22, 1864. Flickr photo by Jason; some rights reserved.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The Orion Nebula
If it be true that “Order is heaven’s first law,” I think it must be equally true that variety is the second law of heaven. The line of beauty is not a straight line, but always the curve. The way of God’s procedure is not uniform, but diversified. You see this with a glance, when you look at the creation around us. God has not made all creatures of one species, but he has created beasts, birds, fishes, insects, reptiles. All flesh truly is not the same flesh, neither are all bodies of the same order. The dull dead earth itself is full of variety. Gems sparkle not all with the same ray. The grosser and less precious rocks are marked and veined each one according to its own fashion. In the vegetable world what a variety of plants, shrubs, herbs, flowers, and trees, we have about us. In any one of the kingdoms of nature, whether it be the animal, vegetable, or mineral, you shall find so many subdivisions that it would need a long schooling to classify them, and a lifetime would not suffice to understand them all. Consider the winged creatures which flit through the air-what a diversity there is between the tiny humming bird, which seems to be but a living mass of gems, and the eagle which with soaring wing ascends to the sky and sports with the lightnings.
The whole world is full of marvels, and no two marvels alike. You shall never be able to find God repeating himself. This great Master may often paint two pictures which seem alike, but investigated with the microscope, what differences at once are revealed! Even those stars which seem to shine with rays of the same brilliance, are discovered by the aid of the telescope to be of different colors, forms, and orbits. Nay, even the very clouds are piled in varied forms, and the masses of nebulae which make up the milky-way are distinguishable from each other. God, in no instance that we can ever find, has used the same mould a second time. He is so affluent of designs, so abundant in the wisdom that devises, so prolific in plans, that even when he would accomplish the same end he chooseth to take another road to it; and that new road is quite as direct as those by which he has formerly reached his purpose.
From a sermon entitled "The First Five Disciples," delivered May 15, 1864. Flickr photo by Marc Soller; some rights reserved.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
“Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice." — 2 Kings 13:19.
How many believers have but little faith, and seem quite content to have but that little. They cannot grasp the promise of God and believingly expect to have it fulfilled. They scarcely know their own interest in Christ; they are safe enough, but they are generally wretched enough. They cannot take God at his word, and therefore their temporal troubles and their spiritual cares press very heavily upon them. Oh that they had grace to smite the ground six times! Oh that they knew how to cast all their burden on him who careth for them!
Oh that the Lord would give them new faith, so that they would trust him implicitly, and leave their souls in the hands of him who shed his heart’s blood that he might redeem them from wrath! Why, I do not know, dear friends, that there is any necessity for us to be always doubting, and fearing, and trembling. Some think there is; but this is because they have not a high idea of the standing of the child of God, and of the position which God would have him attain unto. They shoot the three arrows, and they say- “ I am saved; that is enough; I shall get to heaven.” Oh that they would go on shooting till they could get a heaven below, till they could begin by strong faith to
“Read their title clear, To mansions in the sky,”
and “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory!"
From a sermon entitled "The Arrows of the Lord's Deliverance," delivered March 22, 1864. Flickr photo by Heather Katsoulis; some rights reserved.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
“For they did not get the land in possession by their own sword.”
Behold how the Lord alone was exalted in bringing his people to the land which floweth with milk and honey! He, in his distinguishing grace, had put a difference between Canaan and Israel, and therefore, by his own effectual power, he wrought for his chosen and against their adversaries. The tribes fought for their allotments, but their success was wholly due to the Lord who wrought with them. The warriors of Israel were not inactive, but their valour was secondary to that mysterious, divine working by which Jericho's walls fell down, and the hearts of the heathen failed them for fear. The efforts of all the men-at-arms were employed, but as these would have been futile without divine succour, all the honour is ascribed unto the Lord.
The passage may be viewed as a beautiful parable of the work of salvation; men are not saved without prayer, repentance, etc., but none of these save a man, salvation is altogether of the Lord. Canaan was not conquered without the armies of Israel, but equally true is it that it was not conquered by them; the Lord was the conqueror, and the people were but instruments in his hands.
From The Treasury of David, exposition of Psalm 44:3. Flickr photo by William & Lisa Roberts; some rights reserved.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Brethren, if it be so that God cannot lie, then it must be the natural duty of all his creatures to believe him. I cannot resist that conclusion. It seems to me to be as clear as noonday, that it is every man’s duty to believe truth, and that if God must speak and act truth, and truth only, it is the duty of all intelligent creatures to believe him. Here is “Duty-faith” again, which some are railing at, but how they can get away from it, and yet believe that God cannot lie, I cannot understand. If it be not my duty to believe in God, then it is no sin for me to call God a liar. Will anyone subscribe to that - that God is a liar? I think not; and if to think God to be a liar would be a most atrocious piece of blasphemy, then it can only be so on the ground that it is the natural and incumbent duty of every creature understanding the truthfulness of God to believe in God.
If God has set forth the Lord Jesus Christ as the propitiation for sin, and has told me to trust Christ, it is my duty to trust Christ, because God cannot lie; and though my sinful heart will never believe in Christ as a matter of duty but only through the work of the Holy Spirit, yet faith does not cease to be a duty; and whenever I am unbelieving and have doubts concerning God, however moral my outward life may be, I am living in daily sin; I am perpetrating a sin against the first principles of morality.
From a sermon entitled "What God Cannot Do!," delivered May 8, 1864. Flickr photo by Wouter; some rights reserved.